Research undertaken by the TUC suggests that more than 50% of women have been sexually harassed at work. The report surveyed 1,500 women and results showed that 52% had experienced some form of sexual harassment.
The research highlights that out of those surveyed:
- 35% had heard comments of a sexual nature being made about other women in the workplace.
- 32% had been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature.
- 28% had been subject to comments of a sexual nature about their body or clothes.
- One fifth had experienced unwanted sexual advances.
- One quarter had experienced unwanted touching.
Out of those surveyed, 79% of those who said they were victims of sexual harassment did not tell their employer it had happened. The main reasons given were fear of not being believed or taken seriously, fear of it affecting relationships at work, fear of affecting career prospects or simply being too embarrassed.
The Report went on to note that in nine out of ten cases the wrongdoer was male and often their line manager, or someone with direct authority over them. The report also emphasised that sexual harassment is more prevalent amongst younger women, with 63% of those surveyed aged between 18 and 24 saying that they had been sexually harassed at work.
Explaining Sexual Harassment
The Equality Act 2010 defines sexual harassment as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
Examples of behaviour that can constitute sexual harassment include making indecent or suggestive jokes or remarks, inappropriate touching, displaying indecent images in the workplace and any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating working environment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can be committed by various people including a manager, a potential employer, a colleague or customer. It can even take place at work or in a range of other locations including a customer’s workplace, on a work trip/social event (e.g. a Christmas party), via email or on social media.
If you or your business require any further guidance or advice on the issues raised in this article then please do not hesitate to contact the employment team on 0161 672 1425.